A very good, absolutely productive day!!

We had planned to work on Clyde on Saturday, but (naturally) it rained. So, we went to the Bulk Food store, bought enough beef jerky to last us a life time, and spent the rest of the day goofing off. So… Sunday came in beautiful and we got to work!!!

First day of Fall, and the temps were in the low 70’s and a perfect breeze blew all day.

We had a last item of demolition to do. I didn’t count it as a part of the camper, because it was the floor. But, Chad says it counts. So, this is really the last demo of the camper itself. We knew the wood floors had to go. They were all lumpy and bumpy from remnants of linoleum past. They had a lot of water damage at the corners, wheel wells and door. So, that was a given. Using the weirdest of floor removal tools…

Mattock Time!

a mattock (or mattox, depending on where you live), we removed the wood. It came out in chunks. We had to laugh, because we hit one section that did NOT want to come up. Chad was slamming crowbars and the mattock under it and just started dying laughing. He yelled, “We finally found one piece of Clyde that was built well!!!!”  We’ve been hunting it for almost 3 years. Finally it revealed itself! LOL!!!!

That is NOT cotton candy!

Let me tell you, the fluffy, pink insulation stuff was NASTY!!! Water-logged piles of pink slime. Oh, just YUCK!!!

What we could see of the metal under the wood and insulation looked okay, but we could only see a couple of square feet, so we weren’t holding our breath.

Photo 6

Photo 1

Good thing!!! Not only did they have holes in them from the dissimilar metals touching (galvanic reaction/action, see below), they had actually been made of… irregular siding. Yes, it was made of the stuff the sides were made of. I was counting on whisper-thin aluminum to hold my chubby self up off the ground. Oh, my.

So, armed with tin snips, crowbars, a screwdriver and the patience of a saint, Chad went to work!


Where'd the floor go??

As he worked and revealed more and more of the frame, we found out a brace on the frame had missed being welded to the center frame. It was hanging by a thread. So, we’ll have to weld that back on. But, luckily, the remainder of the frame is in excellent shape. It’s got a very small amount of surface rust. So, in the coming days, we’ll be using a metal brush to get the rust and dirt off. Then, we’ll take Rustoleum Rusty Metal Primer and cover the frame with that, then paint it with Rustoleum gloss black. We could use the spray stuff, but don’t want to risk getting any of it on the good siding, windows, whatever. So, we’ll use brushes for that.

Right now, we have a couple of extra 2x4s just bracing the walls to keep them from slumping. They weren’t, but we figured we wouldn’t leave it for long without something. We know our luck!!

Our find of the day is something that just cracked me up.

Bzzzzz! Beehive! 4 small, beehive clear lights. Mounted UNDER the camper, but too far back/in to be of any use for signaling. The only thing we can figure out is that they were there to help you see where to put the stabilizing jacks if you were setting up in the dark. They are SO cool! I absolutely love this fantastic, retro look. 3 of them are in really good shape, one has a cracked lens. We’re thinking that maybe they could be used as reverse lights, since they are white. Whatever the case, we are SO finding a place for these. They’re the coolest find we’ve had on this project and I am just in love with them!!

Our final work of the day was to get the back window in. We took out the temporary plastic sheeting, butyl taped the edges of the window frame and popped it in. We had to wedge some wood around the edges to hold it in place, as we don’t have the insulation or paneling up yet. Even temporarily in place, they look fantastic!

Rear window (not the movie)

Rear window (not the movie)

Front window, as seen earlier

Front window, as seen earlier

We’ll cut the holes for the 4 small windows when we get the floors put in. I’m working on cleaning them up, and finding a place to replace the screening, as it’s picked to pieces on several of the windows. I know that’s supposed to be a very simple DIY, but I’m kind of cursed when it comes to screens. So, I’ll be hiring that one out, Thank you!

In short, we now have a hand full of actual structural stuff to do: repair the weld on the frame, clean up and paint the frame, new metal floors (luckily, we have left over steel from the camper sides, so we’ll utilize that), new subfloor, new roof bracing. Then, we’ll be ready to figure out where to run the electrical and plumbing. Run that, then put up styrofoam-style insulation and the paneling. Then, we’ll have our little box on wheels ready to for its pretty innards! Sounds like a lot, but these are mostly quick things, as Chad has restored tons of old cars, so he’s very used to frame work. He’s a blacksmith/metal artist, so he can weld like crazy. I’m the daughter of an electrician, and helped restore/repair old houses my whole life. We’ve finally hit the point that we actually KNOW WHAT WE’RE DOING!!! So, hopefully it will go quicker now!!!

We’re coming up on Clyde’s 3rd year with us (November 2010, he came home to live with us). I’m hoping 2014 (which will be his 40th birthday) will see him on the road! With productive days like this, I can actually see it coming! It’s about time!!!

*** boring information on galvanic corrosion, courtesy of wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galvanic_corrosion ****


Quick Update: More Siding On… and Clyde looks like a welder!

Another fun-filled evening playing with the Clyde! It went much smoother placing the siding, but it got dark early, so it was really hard to place the rivets exactly, etc. We finally gave up and left some of the rivets not done and did not cut out the top portion of the window. Something about not wanting to use something that can cut off your fingers in less than optimal light! Go figure!

Anyway, here’s a pic of him with his almost-done front! I think with the window being only partially cut out, he looks like a welding hood (the helmet people use to weld with, it has a narrow slit to see thru). He’s sorta rockin’ a steampunk vibe!

Want me to weld that for ya?!


For Comparison (by the way, this is an AWESOME print on Etsy that I am so going to wind up buying. This guy does the most unusual alphabet cards. Y is for Yeti, A is for Afro, F is for Film Noir, N is for Narwhal, etc). Check him out!

So, lousy picture in fading light, but at least you know poor Clyde is not completely naked any more! He’s  got both ends and his roof covered in siding now! He’s feeling much less drafty. The sides are going to require us suckering some friends to come and help throwing a party for our friends to visit Clyde. It took 4 of us to get the top piece on because of the bend and getting the metal totally flat, etc. It’s only 6.5 feet wide. At nearly 12 feet, I can only imagine how unwieldy those side pieces are going to be.

Of course, first I have to order the siding for the sides. Since Chad works the next 3 weekends straight, I’m not in a hurry. I have plenty of time to sell my kidney, or a couple of liver lobes (low miles, no alcohol!).

Thanks for joining our adventures, and we’ll see you next time!


Show me some SKIN!!!!!!!

Well, it finally happened. After mistakes in measuring, a small amount of blood shed (mine) and just prior to a monsoon a-blowin’ thru… Clyde got his new skin on! Not all of it, just the start. The back of Clyde is now clad in a beautiful golden-tan color. The window opening is cut out (THAT made a horrible noise) and we even test-fit the window and it will look AWESOME! He’s looking like a real camper now!!!

The first piece we actually put on a couple of weeks ago. We did this one just the two of us. That might have been a slight mistake. Or a huge one. The metal is thin, but strong. You have to place it exactly where you want it and begin securing it with rivets from the middle out, or you might have a “loose” area of skin that will look wrong. So, we had to hold a 6.5 foot piece of metal up, press it down evenly and secure it. If each person had 3 hands, this would not be hard. But, with only 4 hands between us, it was not pretty. I had my head, hands, one knee and my um… uh… hooters squished against the metal to help hold it. Even with the almighty substance (duct tape) holding it steady, we about wore ourselves out. But, we got piece one installed.

The first rivet in Clyde! Or, as Chad called it, “Clyde’s First Screw.” Yes, sometimes he is a 13 year old boy. Ignore the purple line, it’s just chalk!

Notice the plastic wrap. $10 a roll at ACE hardware. It will act as a vapor barrier to keep water from getting to the wood, and it’s currently keeping critters out while we get the skin on. Whattabargain!

So, we waited until we had slave labor, er, uh… until my parents were home to do the next piece! It went MUCH smoother. We truly could not have done it without them, because this piece had to be installed up on ladders and had to fit over a BIG curve and under the roof. So, it took all four of us for sure! Chad had a genius moment when he thought to install a piece of wood exactly where the bottom of the metal needed to go. It was temporary, but kept us from having to hold the bottom of the metal the whole time. MUCH easier than wrestling and duct taping.

First, we cut the window out of the bottom piece, so we wouldn’t have to cut thru 2 layers of metal at the overlap!

Then, the next step was to put the new metal on. No pictures of that particular circus, because we were all too busy holding stuff, hanging off of ladders, etc. Please notice the beautiful drawing of Chad and I looking out the window. Thankfully, that part got cut out.

Absolutely WONDERFUL! Beautiful new skin for our beautiful boy, Clyde!!!

I think my favorite part is the riveting! It reminds me of the old campers from the 1950’s and 1960’s. The screws come with a water-proof washer and are already painted to match the camper. As I have mentioned, this is metal roofing, before it gets the corrugation. It has a baked-on finish that lasts 40 years and doesn’t even have to be waxed. You don’t even have to buy special stuff to wash it. You can use dishwashing liquid. How easy!!!

We got the front all ready to put the siding on, and the heaven’s opened up. It was like a monsoon. There was a river of water pouring under the camper. So, we called it quits and went home. But, Clyde looks wonderful and we are SO proud.

I haven’t quit dancing for days now. Well, internal dancing, ’cause the inmates look at me odd when I dance during their physicals. Go figure!

So much for that idea (or measure twice, order once)

It was a weekend of ups and downs. Mostly ups, but a huge, crushing down.

We got all the siding off, finished even the most finicky of bits to framing, put in the new, flexible expanda-foam stuff in every little joint, unrolled our beautiful new siding and…

it was too short.

By 3 inches. An inch and a half on each side. 3 inches. And, the worst part… it was our fault. Chad asked me for the camper measurements, and I gave him the ones we’ve always used. The ones that were BEFORE we did all the exterior work. Guess what changed by 3 inches by the time we got all the work done?  Sigh.

Good news is, it’ll work for the ends, and have enough left over to reskin the door and the rock guard, which we wanted to do anyway. Bad news, we didn’t have enough of the wider boards to brace where the back bunk will be, so we couldn’t skin the ends this weekend.

So, Clyde is all naked and we can’t do anything until we:

a. Have another weekend off together (the joys of a hubby in law enforcement… crappy hours. He’ll work the next 2 weekends).

b. Get the new sheet metal ordered (4 day processing)

c. Pay for said metal

d. Get all the bracing for the back bunk

e. chisel the remaining window out, which is on the back and put in with some sort of concrete or something, LOL.

Clyde is all bones!!!

So, our big exciting weekend did have us getting a LOT of work done, just not the final bit of work we were so excited about.

Considering that we are BRAND new to campers, let alone rebuilding one, it’s amazing we haven’t hit a larger snafu than this before now. But, it didn’t stop me from sitting down and having a good cry. Pity Party for 2, please! While I was snotting and whining and generally behaving like a total weenie, the most beautiful thing happened…

A Family of Deer!

Mom and Dad live on the edge of the lake and right up on some woods. Out of them wanders 2 does and 3 fawns. They were so close. We just sat and watched them for ages. They finally wandered far enough away that Chad was able to sneak and grab the camera and get a few shots. One of the does finally goes uncomfortable with us, and started stomping its foot at us and even snorting a little. Then, off they went!

So, that ended my pity party. we packed up our stuff, and Chad will go back today (he’s off) with a roll of plastic sheeting and cover up Clyde with it, so the wood won’t warp over the next 2.5 weeks until we can get back to it and get to work again.

Hopefully, we’ll have ALL the metal this time and just go ahead and skin the whole beast. So, I promised you awesome pictures, and I delivered. Just pics of naked Clyde and gorgeous deer instead of dressed Clyde. You’ll have to wait a little over 2 weeks for those. Sorry!

Brace Yourself, Clyde!

This was probably the most progress-filled weekend on Clyde yet! We had grown so accustomed to spending hours destroying things that seeing a lot of stuff get built is just mind-blowing! Anyway, the inside of our dear Clyde is completely framed. Meaning that all the walls are now structurally sound, braced where they need to be to allow the siding to screw into place, hold the windows in at the proper heights, etc.

Brace Yourself!

The walls are so sturdy now! When we first got Clyde, you could push on the wall and watch the exterior wall bulge. If you pushed on the wall to shake the camper, only a certain part would shake, because nothing was stuck together! Now, we can grab the brace and shove as hard as we want, and it goes NOWHERE! When you grab an exterior corner and push it, the camper moves as one unit. It’s solid!

In case you are wondering about the bajillion little silver plates, those are called “ties” and they are used to connect pieces of wood that do not screw into something else. Campers are actually put together with metal staples rather than these. While tearing Clyde apart, we found that most of the staples had either rusted/corroded and already broken or were the consistency of dry spaghetti. We figured out quickly that had contributed to how unstable the camper felt. We opted for a much stronger build. Of course, this many staples would have cost about $10 and lasted for a good 20 years. But, we mean for Clyde to outlive us and give some other group of nerds much happiness. So, we went with the $.52 each tie plates. The last trip we made to Lowe’s (aka our home away from home) we bought 40 of them. We are down to one now. Sigh. Here we come again, Lowes!

I did have a wonderful moment this weekend, though. We went to Big John’s Closeouts in Elizabehton, TN. It’s sort of like a builder’s Big Lots. They had our screws there! For cheap! So we got 300 of them (all they had) for about what 100 usually costs. And, I came up with a great way to keep them. They come in a small cardboard box that is very inconvenient to carry around and easy to knock over. So, being that I am a nurse and have access to a LOT of old prescription bottles, I got one of the large bottles (like 90 day prescriptions come in) that has the reversible lid (fat part down, child proof, fat part up, not child-proof) and cleaned it out, peeled off the old label and put the screws in it. If you knock it over, it won’t spill. AND the best part… with the lid on in the un-child-proof form, it make a small dish to keep a handful of screws in for easy access. Cost: FREE and I kept a chunk of plastic out of the land-fill! Not bad, huh??

My moment of genius!

Okay, it’s not rocket science, but it really did work out well. Oh, and notice the fake-grass under the bottle? It came with Clyde and has been thru Hell and back! We use it for everything. Any time we have to crawl under the camper, lay down to do something, etc. it comes out. I am sure its original purpose was to serve as an outdoor “rug” of sorts, but we’ve worked it to pieces! We will let it retire gracefully when Clyde is finished. Because I found an AWESOME outdoor rug at Lowe’s on clearance AND I got an additional 10% off because the only one left was the floor model (rug. floor model. Funny!). I’ll have to do another “stuff for the inside of Clyde” roundup soon, and put a pic of it in there. It’s very groovy, with my 70’s harvest colors and big flowers.

Now, what comes next for Clyde is a HUGE jump. We’re calling Lyon’s metal roofing tomorrow to put in our order. They are a metal roofing manufacturer here in Piney Flats, TN. Buying direct from them, you save a fortune. But, if you’ve ever seen metal roofing, you know it has all kinds of corrugation to it, to make the rain run down correctly. So, it’d be really hard to put on a camper, as it has quite tall peaks and ridges, that would make capping the corners difficult. Here’s where my husband is a genius…

He asked them if we could buy the metal BEFORE it got corrugated. And, you can. Flat, prepainted, good for 30 years at least. AND, it comes in a gorgeous tan color called “mocha tan” that almost matches Chad’s Jeep (aka Miss Behavin’), which is what we will use to tow. I am not sure what our exact cost will be, but it is going to be a HUGE savings. The cheapest we could find replacement camper siding was about $17 per square foot BEFORE shipping. Craziness on a $600 camper!!!! So, this is going to be around $3.00 per linear foot of 3.5 foot wide sheets. Since Clyde is only 6 feet tall, we only have to get 2 sheets per side, at about 12 feet each. So, yeah… it’s gonna be CHEAP. They even sell the screws and water-tight washers in matching baked-on paint. Clyde is gonna look like a new man!!!

So, long-story already too long to be short: We are going to start re-skinning Clyde next weekend. I am anticipating getting both of the long sides done that weekend, then we’ll worry about the ends next time. We didn’t want to bite off more than we could chew all at once (and we don’t have anywhere to store huge hunks o’ metal at Mom and Dad’s, where we work on Clyde). So, we’re starting there, and seeing how we do!

Believe me, my next post of Clyde Work should be AMAZING. Next weekend, the weather is supposed to be perfect, partly cloudy and in the high 70’s. Keep your fingers crossed that it stays that way! Rain will cancel the whole plan, since we have to take all the siding off both sides to get started on this! EEK!

Trust me, I’ll get PLENTY of pictures!

So, say prayers and do dances for good weather and happy engineering, since neither of us know what we are doing!



The last of the bad… not as bad as we feared!

We finally managed to get the last bit of the camper interior demo’d out! The front bits, past the door. We were terrified, as the back was a total mess. That’s where we got into the worst rot and warping. So, figuring if the back was bad, the front would be worse… we went in armed with crowbars and crappy attitudes. But, we didn’t expect it to go well! There had been rot at some time, but the previous owner’s botched attempts to remodel had actually worked… mostly. He’d gotten it all cleaned out, but didn’t realize there’d been quite a bit of warping. So, we ripped out the last, hideous remains of evil, grasscloth wallpapered paneling and the crumbling econoboard paneling. And, finally, every bit of Clyde is down to the bare bones. 

Gorgeous bare metal and non-rotted wood! What we anticipated being a nightmare was quite easy!

And, the bones were good! No rot, except a very small area at the front, right. It was easily removed. Unfortunately, we ran out of screws, so didn’t get to replace it. It’s been the running joke, these screws. They are the only kind that work the way we need them to (biting into the wood to draw it tight, but being short enough to not go thru the other side). The ONLY place that carries them is ACE hardware and they carry them… 3 boxes at a time. So, we buy out every ACE we can find, each week. Probably we could get them to special order some, but it is honestly like getting to hunt. It’s become something to laugh about. We make our little ACE rounds every few days. 

The other running joke would be Construction Adhesive (aka Liquid Nails). The previous owners (who received a new name this week, more on that later) seemed to think that Liquid Nails would fix anything. And, if it was broken, all it needed was MORE Liquid Nails. So, every piece of plywood, every board, every bit of paneling and wire, they added MORE. Strings and globs and great, burgeoning piles of Liquid Nails. And, when one attaches paneling with Liquid Nails, the paneling will NEVER come loose. Well, it will, but only with tons of crowbar action. During one session of 30 minutes to chisel loose a 1×6 foot piece of paneling, Chad actually lifted the crowbar over his head and yelled, “You Damn Dirty Apes!”  

I pretty much peed my pants laughing, and the Previous Owners now have a new name. They are “The Damn Dirty Apes” from here on out. So, that got used a lot this weekend. That, and many, many new curse words, as well as the old standby ones. They all got used. But, we prevailed and the paneling is no more! The windows are all framed in, the walls are all framed in, and we are ready for the next phase! 

Next weekend, we will tear out the ceiling (I am not counting it as the interior demo, as roof/ceiling is a whole ‘nother creature). We will finish rebuilding the front, and God willing, go pick up some new, cheap siding we found on Craigslist and start to reskin the Clyde!!! 

Now, to close with some pics of the fun we had! 


Celebrating the end of interior demo with a Diet Dr. Pepper toast! This is the area we’ll be putting the dinette, so we pretended it was there. Of course, our view was hampered, as we could not open the window cover, because if we did the window would fall out. Ooops.

Chad slaving away, again, in front of the site of our last bit of demo. Say farewell to the paneling, the ugly flooring, etc. They are all gone now!